Clifton Terrace School will be missing a much-loved teacher today, as the primary school starts back for the year.
New entrance teacher Trish Goodman is retiring after 26 years of service to the school, dating back to the 1970s.
She even met her husband there and principal Rob Wemyss says Trish will be “greatly missed”.
“Trish is like the mother of the school – she looks after us, and is always the one with the funny story to tell.”
Nelson born and bred, Trish went to teachers college in Christchurch and moved back home to land her first teaching job at the Clifton Terrace in 1972.
Trish says that back then there were about eight teachers, no hall, and a staff room which was “the size of a shoebox.”
“When the school started to grow, we had people teaching in a tent. The area was almost rural because a lot of the housing around here wasn’t here then.”
It was there that she met her husband John Goodman, who was deputy principal at the time.
“I was the first year teacher and he was the DP. It was a bit of a scandal,” she laughs.
In 1975 Trish and John moved away from Nelson when John was appointed to Tapawera Area School, and later, Rai Valley Area School as principal.
During this time, Trish focused on raising their four children and did the “odd bit” of relief teaching.
But in 1994, nearly 20 years after they left, she was drawn back to Clifton Terrace.
John took early retirement, and after a year teaching at Victory Primary School, Trish landed a job back where she started out.
“I was very lucky, I couldn’t believe it,” she says. She has been there ever since, teaching eager five-year-olds, until half-way through last year when she suffered a foot injury that forced her to stop teaching.
“I don’t know when it’s going to get right, so I thought ‘I’d better stop here’,” she says.
Trish says she’s had many ‘teaching highlights’ over the years, including the first time she taught two generations of one family – a mother and daughter.
“Of course it happened a few more times after that,” she says.
She’s even taught some of the teachers who teach at the school now.
“Now they are teaching me a thing or two,” she laughs.
She also gets great pride in bumping into her ex-students around town, and although she doesn’t always recognise them, they certainly recognise her. “When I was having physio at the hospital for the first time, a woman said to me: ‘do you remember me? You used to teach me when I was five’.
Trish says she will miss the people, the place and the abundant bird life outside her classroom.
“Just driving out to this beautiful place each day has been a privilege. I’ve been pretty lucky – it’s a slice of heaven.”
Trish will be having her official send-off in March, and she says she is “still thinking about what’s next”.
“I’m going to keep expanding my horizons, spend time with my husband, children and grandchildren. I want to keep learning.”
And, she says, she might even be back one day.
“I’d love to do a bit of relieving or even just come and help out. You know there is always something to do here.”